Media Minute: Wrong questions, wrong answers
By Jerry Brown, APR
For example, I recently found these questions in my inbox:
“What does it take, in your experience, to achieve good public relations? What are good public relations? If I am already issuing periodic press releases, is that enough?
“What if I have a whole social media marketing plan and I am distributing monthly newsletters, tweeting weekly, writing articles and publishing them in online magazines and talking about everything I do (my company does) on Facebook and Linked-in. Is that enough?
“I believe the above is a more tactic(al) view of PR tools, what about the strategic view of PR?
“And the million $ question — is there real value is paying a retainer of tens of thousands of shekels to a PR firm? Sometimes I feel that despite all the tools that I use, I am not breaking a glass ceiling when it comes to awareness. Can a good PR firm help me and my business? Is a traditional PR firm or a digital marketing firm more advisable today?
“I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences on the above.”
A lot of people seem to think the key to successful PR is using the right tools. But the tools are just tools to help you reach the right audience effectively with right message.
Should a carpenter use a hammer, a saw, a screwdriver, a level, a ruler — or all of them? Depends on the job to be done. S/he probably won’t use a saw to drive nails or a hammer to cut a board. And a master carpenter is going to build a better cabinet than I would even if we use the same tools and materials.
I suggested to the author of the opening questions that she start with a different set of questions:
- What’s your objective? What do you want to happen as a result of telling your story?
- Who’s your audience? Unless you have a monopoly on air and we need to buy it from you to breathe, the answer is not everyone.
- What’s your message? What do you need to say to your audience to persuade them to do whatever you need them to do to meet your objective?
- How do you reach your audience with your message? Getting a story into the Wall Street Journal may sound like success — unless your audience doesn’t read the Wall Street Journal.
Once you know the answers to these questions, then you can start thinking about which tools to use and how often to use them.
Does the questioner need to hire a PR agency? Maybe. Does she need to hire a large, expensive agency? In her case, probably a waste of money. She’d be better off working with an experienced independent practitioner, a small agency or hiring an employee to do her PR work.
Starting with tactics is often tempting. We’ve all done it. But it’s a bad place to start if you don’t know the answers to the questions I listed above and if you don’t have a strategy for delivering your message effectively to your audience. There’s no cookie cutter list of the right tools to use. And good PR is about building relationships, not just delivering a message.
We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?